Sequel in shadow of original's lofty release record

LAS VEGAS — Spidey will get an early start on his Independence Day mission.

Sony will unspool “Spider-Man 2″ on June 30, two days earlier than originally planned, in a move aiming to maximize box office bang over the holiday-lengthened fireworks frame. Sony execs made the surprise announcement at a ShoWest session promoting the sequel to 2002′s action blockbuster.

The studio also confirmed Wednesday its intent to lense a third installment in the comicbook-inspired series of pics. Execs at Marvel — Sony’s partner on the lucrative “Spider-Man” franchise — had previously signaled plans for a second sequel (Daily Variety, March 3).

Cast members of the “Spider-Man” pics were on hand for the Sony event, staged as part of the annual ShoWest convention for exhibs and distribs. Sony presented an extended clip of Spidey 2, which will open amid high hopes that the pic will match the outsized perf of its predecessor.

“Spider-Man” opened over a three-day May frame with a then-record $114.8 million. This time around, Sony chose a holiday session to bow its tentpole, with other studios staying clear of the July 2 weekend under the assumption Spidey will dominate the market.

Though July 4 falls on a Sunday, most Americans will enjoy a work holiday on Monday as well, and that will make the weekend a four-day B.O. frame. But some suggest prospective moviegoers’ preoccupation with fireworks that Sunday night could make this Independence Day weekend a bit less robust for B.O. than in most years.

Of course, that’s the added beauty of distrib’s decision to unleash its costumed character two days early. Move effectively turns the weekend into a six-day frame, with most schoolkids able to throng to multiplexes on any summer weekday.

And there appears to be scant chance of distrib’s encountering any problems in booking the much-anticipated sequel. In fact, most exhibs view Spidey 2 as a linchpin in their ambitions for a profitable summer.

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